About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Massimo's picks

* How to build secular communities, by Emily Cadik, published in the New Humanist.

* My review of "Understanding Philosophy of Science," by James Ladyman.

* An absolutely brilliant satire by Jon Stewart of news networks' punditry.

* Philosopher's pick: Anthony Appiah.

* A somewhat old, and yet insightful, article in the New York Times on the historic repealing of obscenity laws in the United States.

* The "other" 150th anniversary (other than Darwin's Origin): John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty," a foundational classic of the open society.

* A commentary by National Center for Science Education's Genie Scott on the latest creationist trick: releasing a new edition of Darwin's "Origin of Species," with a few chapters mysteriously missing...

* More evidence that Einstein was right, and that the speed of light really is a universal limit (darn, no warp speed for us!).

* Kierkegaard's distinction between depression (of which he probably suffered) and despair. Not a cheerful piece, but a good thoughtful read.


  1. I hope Ladyman mentions Steven Pinker's view that Science is just an attempt to study reality with sufficient rigor and precision as to make sure that one gets one's theories right.

  2. No there is no mention of Pinker. He's not exactly a heavy weight in philosophy of science...

  3. I don't understand how Science can be anything more than sitting an an armchair and imagining which mental traits would probably evolve for humans in prehistoric times.

  4. Appiah is sitting at a chess board, so we can tell he's legit.

  5. Living Waters actually has all the chapters and original introductions in the PDF posted to their website. Seems they are fast with the feedback (on some things). Maybe we should hold back any specific feedback in the future so they fail even more in their stated goals. Wish they were coming to my campus, I currently don't have much to do and would love to waste their time.

  6. Hi Massimo,

    I have a quick question, having absolutely nothing to do with your picks, sorry (though I like those, usually do).

    You may have seen that EvoS Journal - The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium, has started up, I think today, and for some reason I was hoping to see you on the editorial board somewhere. You could be the only CUNY on the board!

    I'd be interested in your take on the project and if you may contribute somehow? On a somewhat related note, only because it also involves D.S. Wilson, have you caught his T&R series?


  7. Luke,

    I'll be in Binghamton visiting David in early December, I'll talk to him then...

  8. D.S. Wilson and J.M. Smith are both excellent because they are good at Math. And they're Biologists. Weird, right?

  9. Massimo,

    ~ "I'll be in Binghamton visiting David in early December, I'll talk to him then..."

    Well, do enjoy yourself, I'd love to know how it goes. I live upstate, so maybe I'll swing by, j/k, scared ya I bet.

    I've met David here at the State Museum in Albany during one of his Darwin celebration lectures, very nice guy. The last time was funny because they set up what was supposed to be a "debate" (not with a creationist or anything like that, just different legit ideas on evolution etc.), but David was so straightforward and ingenious that the other guy was eating out of his hand and it turned into an extraordinary learning experience.


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